Archive for category: Events

Zowie!! May 3 is FREE COMIC BOOK DAY

Free Comic Book Day logoThe first Saturday in May each year is free comic book day.


Go into most major comic book stores in North America (heck, maybe the world!) and get a free comic book.

Do comic books get kids reading? Heck, ya!

If you’re in Toronto, check out Little Island Comics (Bathurst south of Bloor) for younger readers or The Beguiling and pick up a free comic book. They’ll also have visits from comic book writers and artists. There are lots of other comic book stores in Toronto and area (like The Labyrinth, for instance) but those happen to be the ones I know fairly well.

If you’re not in Toronto — and I know that dozens of you aren’t — Google it! Find a store! Get a comic! Bring the kids! Biff! Baff! Zowie!

But don’t take my word for it, here’s Stan Lee to tell ya:

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More about the three important literacy boosters

49th shelf logoWe’ve talked before on GKR about the three most important things you can do for your kids to get them reading.

(Hint – there’re in the sidebar, over there on the right-hand side!)

The fine people at 49th Shelf, a Canadian literature site, have allowed me to talk a bit about them. Just in time for Family Literacy Day, Jan. 27.

(If you’re not familiar with 49th Shelf, get yerself on over there and check it out. It’s a terrific website that promotes Canadian literature.)

And by the way, if you’re looking for something to do to celebrate Literacy Day this weekend, come on down to my book launch for Gabby.

It’s this Sunday at 1:00 at the International Travel Authority cafe, 1165 Bloor St. W., Toronto. There’ll be cake!


Here’s the article on 49th Shelf.

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World Read-Aloud Day is Wed., March 7

wrad2012badgeIt’s very important to read to your child.

In fact, we consider it one of the top three most important things you can do to help your kid develop a love of reading.

Every day – but especially on Wed., March 7 – take the time to read to your child.

Or even someone else’s. Or a bunch of kids. There’s no downside – and a huge upside.

More information on WRAD here.

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Every Canadian in grade one gets a free book in October

Barbara Reid, Alan Convery (TD), Jo Ellen Bogart, Charlotte Teeple (Exec, Dir. CCBC); image: Joyce Grant
Barbara Reid, Alan Convery (TD), Jo Ellen Bogart, Charlotte Teeple (Exec, Dir. CCBC); image: Joyce Grant

This month, every grade-one child in Canada will receive a free book.

That’s every grade-one child, including those home-schooled, or in any school in the country, private or public.

What’s the catch? There is no catch. This has been going on every year for the past 11 years. A pile of books arrives for the grade ones (and twos, if it’s a split class). That’s more than half a million books—the biggest print run in Canada.

It’s a joint project with TD Bank Group and the Canadian Children’s Book Centre (CCBC). TD picks up the $1-million-plus tab for most of the program.

And it’s always such a great book. This year, it’s Gifts (Cadeaux, translated into French), by Jo Ellen Bogart and plasticine artist Barbara Reid.

Gifts is a book that kids will read over and over again—with an adult or by themselves. It’s great for shared reading because it’s full of lyrical phrases. It’s also great for kids to discover and re-discover because the words and the images have lots of things hidden in them to be found.

Gifts tells the story of a grandmother who travels to different countries over the course of a number of years. She asks her granddaughter, “What would you have me bring?” with the granddaughter asking for impossible souvenirs like, “a rainbow to wear as a ring” from Hawaii and “an iceberg on a string” from the Arctic.Gifts (cover)

Grandma is incredibly inventive as she comes up with solutions for each request.

The book follows the pair as they both grow older, eventually ending with the girl now a fully-grown adult with a daughter of her own.

There are lots of reasons to get teary-eyed, here. (Not that I am. My contacts are just a bit scratchy.) First, there’s the wonderful, multi-layered story. Then there are the colourful, detailed plasticine images. Then there’s the 500,000 free books. And then there’s this story:

The CCBC and TD get tons of fan letters after they distribute the books each year. One in particular stands out in the memory of TD rep’s Alan Convery.

They’d just distributed the bGifts, excerptooks, a little before the Christmas season a couple of years ago. Convery got a letter from a principal in the Northwest Territories, thanking him. She said that for most of the children, this would be the first book that they would own. And then she added that this would also be the only Christmas gift many of the children would receive that year, since the families in that particular community were having trouble making ends meet.

(The CCBC later shipped the community another supply of different children’s books.)

It’s so important for kids to own their own books. It empowers them. It lets them feel entitled to use books. And statistics show very clearly that there is a link between kids who have their own books and those who go on to higher education.


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Happy Family Literacy Day, Canada!

Today is Family Literacy Day.

Bookmark, from’s a great day to… click on “15-minute ideas” or “Games” or “Crafts” in our tags and find a wonderful activity you can do with your kids that will help to get them reading.

At our school, a parent contacted the local library, which is having a bookmark-making contest. They gave us blank bookmarks and forms for all the kids at our school so they can enter the library contest. Fun!

More about FLD here.

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Happy Family Literacy Day

This is the day.

The day you and your child read together for at least 15 minutes.
The day you buy her a magazine, out of the blue.
The day you help your child write a letter (or an e-mail) to gramma.
The day you listen to your daughter read a book.
The day you subscribe online to ChickaDEE.
The day you set aside some books to donate to the Children’s Book Bank.
The day you read the newspaper with your son.

The day you take a few moments to help your child be a better reader.

My son and I will be reading Harry Potter tonight. Last night Snape confiscated Harry’s potion because he forgot to put hellebore syrup in his Draught of Peace. Tonight, I think we’re going to have to sit through Professor Umbridge’s class. She looks like a toad, with a pale complexion, runny eyes, a slit for a mouth and she always dresses in fluffy pink cardigans. Blech.

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Family Literacy Day is Jan. 27

Tomorrow is Family Literacy Day

Celebrate and foster literacy in your home by:
*Reading with your kids;
*Creating a story together;
*Explaining some current events to them;
*Giving them a book or a magazine; or
*Letting them read to you.

I read the five Robert Munsch books to my son (see last post) and we entered our names to help Canada beat the US’s “reading to children” record. Since more than 190,000 people registered, it’s possible we blew that record out of the water. Oooh, literacy can get so competitive!

Even though my son has heard those Munsch books zillions of times, we had a great time reading them together. And in “Mortimer,” every time the parents put him to bed, our whole family sang at the top of our lungs, “Clang, clang, rattle bing-bang – gonna make my noise all day!” If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then here’s your FLD assignment: Read Robert Munsch’s Mortimer. You’ll be glad you did.

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Does your child know what happened today?

Talk to your child about the significance of the events of January 20, 2009. Talk to him about what it means to have an African-American president in the US. Explain why so many people were waiting and watching on this day. Why it’s so important not just to the US but to Canada, to the world.

This is a moment to bring your child into history. Explain the electoral process – teach them how to spell “inauguration.” And “Obama.” And “hope.”

Listen to Obama’s inaugural speech together and explain some of the profound things he talked about. The global crises. The ways in which Americans and Canadians and other citizens of the world were asked to come together. The role religion played in his speech. The reason he mentioned his father, 60 years ago, not being served in a restaurant; his son now president.

Literacy is more than words. It is an understanding of world events, and people who are helping to shape our world. Talk with your kids about this, and listen to what they say. Help them understand so they can embrace our history, and our future.

We can’t be cynical, or cool about the importance of this day. It’s historical, it’s important, it’s significant. Bring your child into it.

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Word on the Street – over for another year

It was a crush, but I got a lot of great books.

Here’s the Scholastic booth, which is where I spend most of my time – and money – at Word on the Street.

It looks crowded, and it is, but you get to the front pretty quickly.

The Scholastic people offer these great “book bundles” – five or six books from a series for one low price. I got a set of Geronimo Stilton for 10 bucks, for instance. (That’s going to be a Christmas gift.)

Half the Scholastic booth is French, which is perfect for me, because I’ve just started teaching my son some French. For some reason, though, every book I bought in French is about a dog.

This year I bought more than a dozen books for what I would normally spend on one or two books. A pretty great deal.

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Word on the Street – Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

This Sunday, a tribute to the written word arrives in Toronto.

We’re so fortunate to have Word on the Street each year.

Children can play games (and win books), meet some of their favourite TVO personalities, and generally see how many people are excited about books and reading.

It’s a celebration of reading, in a fun atmosphere.

My favourite booth each year is the Scholastic booth, where you can buy very inexpensive children’s books, often packaged together for, say, 5 books for $3. I regularly come home with 50 or 60 children’s books, not only for my son but for future birthday and Christmas gifts.

Here’s what to expect:
*258 book and magazine exhibits;
*248 authors, poets and presenters;
*198 readings, presentations and workshops.

Word on the Street also comes to Calgary, Halifax, Kitchener and Vancouver. Check their website for details.

Photo: Word on the Street, Jen Cooper.
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